This is the time when the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan usually begins.Â See here. The Japanese word for cherry blossom is Sakura. This ornamental tree is known in Latin as Prunus serrulata.
During the Cherry Blossom Festival, there is the beauty of the experience of seeing all the trees in bloom at the same time. But the flowers last only a brief time before the petals fall delicately to the ground. Watching the petals fall so quickly, the Japanese ponder the nature of life. To the Japanese, these falling petals are a metaphor for the ephemeral or fleeting nature of life.
The most recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan shows how ephemeral life really is.
The article below has been going around the internet and is being posted so that TheGardenLady readers can see what creative gardeners can accomplish. To see more of the art check out this site or this site.
Stunning crop art has sprung up across rice fields in Japan. But this is no alien creation – the designs have been cleverly planted.
Farmers creating the huge displays use no ink or dye. Instead, different colours of rice plants have been precisely and strategically arranged and grown in the paddy fields.
As summer progresses and the plants shoot up, the detailed artwork begins to emerge.
The village has now earned a reputation for its agricultural artistry and this year the enormous pictures of Napoleon and a Sengoku-period warrior, both on horseback, are visible in a pair of fields adjacent to the town hall.
More than 150,000 vistors come to Inakadate, where just 8,700 people live, every summer to see the extraordinary murals.
Each year hundreds of volunteers and villagers plant four different varieties of rice in late May across huge swathes of paddy fields.And over the past few years, other villages have joined in with the plant designs.
The largest and finest work is grown in the Aomori village of Inakadate, 600 miles north of Toyko, where the tradition began in 1993.
Another famous rice paddy art venue is in the town of Yonezawa in the Yamagata prefecture.
This year’s design shows the fictional 16th-century samurai warrior Naoe Kanetsugu and his wife, Osen, whose lives feature in television series Tenchijin.
Various artwork has popped up in other rice-farming areas of Japan this year, including designs of deer dancers.
The farmers create the murals by planting little purple and yellow-leafed kodaimai rice along with their local green-leafed tsugaru roman variety to create the coloured patterns between planting and harvesting in September.
The murals in Inakadate cover 15,000 square metres of paddy fields. From ground level, the designs are invisible, and viewers have to climb the mock castle tower of the village office to get a glimpse of the work.
Rice-paddy art was started there in 1993 as a local revitalization project, an idea that grew out of meetings of the village committee.
In the first nine years, the village office workers and local farmers grew a simple design of Mount Iwaki every year.
But their ideas grew more complicated and attracted more attention. In 2005 agreements between landowners allowed the creation of enormous rice paddy art.
A year later, organisers used computers to precisely plot planting of the four differently colored rice varieties that bring the images to life.
The strongest flavored tea made from the Camellia sinenses leaves is called black tea or red tea.Â Black tea is the tea which was most commonly sold over the years in the US by brand names like Tetley, Lipton or “Good Morning” organic. Black teas are made from “fermented” tea leaves.
What is called fermentation is really oxidation because it takes place when Camellia sinensis leaves are spread on trays in a cool, humid atmosphere to oxidize the leaves. This changes the chemical structure of the leaf, and allows the tea’sÂ characteristic flavor to emerge. The longer a tea is allowed to ferment, the stronger flavor it will have and the darker it will become. To retard the fermentation process the leaves are dried. After drying the leaves are graded -Â longer leaves are used for loose teas and leftovers and dust leaves are used for tea bags.
Connoisseurs think of tea like great wines or coffees, each with its special flavor. Aged tea is considered a great delicacy in the Chinese culture. TheGardenLady was invited toÂ a Chinese tea ceremony where she tasted 50 year old black tea. This was a first for TheGardenLady who has attended a number of Japanese Tea Ceremonies.
Bonsai bonÂ·saiÂ n. pl. bonsai is the art of growing dwarfed, ornamentally shaped trees or shrubs in small shallow pots or trays. Bonsai appeared first in China over 1000 years ago but once bonsai was introduced into Japan in around the 12th century- some say earlier, the art was refined to an extent not yet approached in China. The word means means a tree planted in a container.Â Read this for some history of bonsai.
While in Japan, TheGardenLady visited what is considered one of the 3 most beautiful gardens in Japan which is also one of the most famous gardens in Japan since the Edo Period-for over 300 years. This magnificent garden is called Korakuen and is in Okayama. Because it is Chrysanthemum time, the garden had an exhibit of Chrysanthemum Bonsai.
TheGardenLady has just returned from a two week tour of Japan with an artist who was raised in Fukuoka but now lives in the US.Â She knows Fukuoka very well and takes small groups with her to visit the area around Fukuoka which included Nagasaki and Kyoto. TheGardenLady was most interested in the flora and gardens of the area and to this end took many photos; but since the tour was not specifically plant oriented, ThisGardenLady would love to return to Japan some day to visit the botanical gardens as well as more of the formal gardens.
This time of year is the chrysanthemum festival. Many of the gardens or shrines have displays of chrysanthemums for visitors to gaze at.
According to Wikipedia “Chrysanthemums were cultivated in China as a flowering herb as far back as the 15th century BC.Â An ancient Chinese city was named Ju-Xian, meaning “chrysanthemum city”. Then, according to the chrysanthemum society “aroundÂ the 8th century A.D., the chrysanthemum appeared in Japan. So taken were the Japanese with this flower that they adopted a single flowered chrysanthemum as the crest and official seal of the Emperor. The chrysanthemum in the crest is a 16-floret variety called “Ichimonjiginu.”